Maimane finally realizes he was elected to lead a white DA, in which he is not to question white privilege!


Clyde Ramalaine

JOHANNESBURG- Mmusi Maimane the embattled DA leader, addressed a rally in Soshanguve on Freedom Day. During this speech he attempted to engage the holy grail of white privilege and juxtaposed that to black poverty, he today finds himself offside of those who usually sing with him in accord in the attack of the leading party and its leadership. The mutterings on his incapability to lead the DA have increasingly been growing in the public space of the SA discourse.

Maimane finally is realising he is heading up a white party, a party that will not entertain anyone challenging its raison d’être, namely the protection of white privilege and attacking whiteness. If Maimane had taken the time to listen to Lindiwe Mazibuko, when she warned “the DA is not for free thinking and educated blacks”, he may have paused and approached his ascendance in the DA with more circumspect and less euphoria.

Maimane knows today that despite the much-made history of liberalism paraded as the banner of the DA in its ancestry of a Democratic Party with celebrated progressive voices like Helen Susman and Van Zyl Slabbert among others the DA he leads is a really the fulcrum of a conservative white minority singularly out to defend, fight for, protect and work for the interest of white privilege.

Maimane came to realise that he may talk about anything but as soon as he attempts to engage the subject of white privilege literally the anchor tenant of his party’s existence all hell breaks loose. It didn’t take long for the traditional DA constituency to begin to raise the voices against its leader. The reality is Steenhuizen etc do not respect Maimane they have never respected him, he was a means to an end and clearly, he is fast reaching his expiry date. Let us also be clear Maimane was never the DA traditional constituency’s choice. Helen Zille on her last fundraising trip to those who identify with the DA at an international level was told step down and let the Obama project aka Maimane be elected.

Maimane discovered it is all good and fine to attack the ANC because inadvertently you really attacking black leadership. He finally learns castigating black leadership as corrupt is not so an uncommon belief in the DA he heads up, as long as you never try and flip and he must just not try call whites corrupt? Like OJ Simpson in 1995 after the murder of Nicole Simpson, his wife realised he is really a black man, so Maimane awakes to the reality he is a black man in a white party. The white world will fool you into thinking you are white until you cross a line. Maimane crossed that line and as soon as he did, they told him he is not supposed to do that.

Maimane came to experience the naked truth of what the DA in its fundamental essence stands for. He is never to ask for a broadening of leadership that is black, he was never to raise the subject matter of transformation. His job was to grow the black followers of the DA just not tamper with a dominant white leadership.

The concern as is claimed in DA circles is the alienating of what they term the traditional DA constituency. The constituency is not mentioned in name of categoric sense, it is explained in a traditional definition. Yet its presence in the DA is pronounced, its relevance not disputed and its reality embraced as the supreme constituency. The DA is an alliance as we all know therefore it means, we must ask what is meant with a traditional DA constituency in the DA setting?

Since we discuss constituencies, is there equal concern towards a constituency alienation if the DA continues with its firing of Patricia De Lille? Or is the constituency concern reserved for the real centre of the DA? It does not take special knowledge to decipher, who the constituency is. All one has to do is ask what did Maimane attempt to raise? Who then makes up the traditional definition of DA constituency if not those who claim a white description for their common identity. Maimane knows today he is not part of that traditional DA constituency, he will never be as cursed by skin shade renders him impossible to ever traverse that divide of traditional and non-traditional constituency claims.

The hypocrisy of the DA is its refusal to honestly engage the anomalies of South Africa as the constitutional democracy, anomalies that continue to underscore the protection of white privilege and the upkeep of black poverty as normal and endorsed by a constitution. The DA seeks to use the constitution as the frontline of defence to entrench white privilege and white economic supremacy, it uses any and every means at its disposal to confirm the deep-seated belief in the corrupt nature of black leadership, the courts are not spared.

Maimane finds himself on the receiving end of a blistering attack from within his party ranks. This charge is led by senior leaders in the DA, namely the Deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters, the Chief Whip John Steenhuizen and the vocal Member of Parliament Natasha Mazzone. What then is the common denominator that binds this group of leaders together in agreement on red carding Maimane and his white privilege acknowledgement? It is nothing else but a denotation colonialism and apartheid extended them in white identity. They are defending the traditional base of the DA. They easily identify with that traditional constituency.

Maimane may have pretended hitherto he was not aware that the Democratic Alliance is not a democratic party its list compilation for leadership and its elections of leadership confirms this fact.

How is it that Maimane did not know the DA he leads? After all, he saw and lived through times of struggle to lead, in an attempt of exacting discipline on his predecessor Helen Zille and Diane Kohler-Barnard among a few. He should have known then already his leadership was a token leadership. Is it possible that Mazibuko’s analysis struck him dead in the face?

Yet Maimane may protest he is educated. He may demonstrate he is an independent thinker –  that’s exactly why he raised the issue of white privilege regardless of how discomforting it may be for some? He may even direct you to his most recent tweet on the unfolding saga, in which he categorically asserts: “I firmly stand by comments I made on Freedom Day. SA remains deeply unequal, with black SAns locked out of opportunities. We must focus on solving the problem. Liberation of one race is not the enslaving of another – all of us, black & white, must come together to build #1SA4All”. We do not know if his newfound independence is authentic or a desperate attempt at political survival since he sees the writing on the wall. Is he in any sense becoming black because he realises the white party feels he has served his purpose – which was to get Jacob Zuma out, nothing more nothing less?

What is more clear today is that the DA as an alliance is coming loose at its racial white and black seams, it is tearing at its traditional and non- traditional constituency bases these are also again in a binary of white and black realities. Is it finding itself in what Gramsci long ago defined as the interregnum, the old not willing to die and the new not yet empowered?

Regardless to how Maimane may attempt to sound in charge he knows he is not in charge of the traditional DA constituency, he knows he is a black man in a white party where his own future is not guaranteed since he was elected as a means to an end.

The DA knows now that its last leadership contest that produced a squaring of between Wilmot James and Mmusi Maimane in which they consciously opted for the lesser of the two that spelt any threat to the transformation of the DA, is also becoming uncontrollable. The DA is not serious about transformation particularly itself, it is and remains a party obsessed to protect the white interest and cannot exist outside that fundamental axis. The DA is the sum total of the majority of white voters. It is the natural home of the majority of white voters not because it is the better option for the country but really since whites feel at home and continue to vote for this party because it is a party that represents them as group and race’s interest.

Maimane knows that he personally no different to De Lille is very discardable for those of white privilege. He knows today that he is not indispensable and even those within the party that may support him will not save him since those who do not approve of his white privilege statements are the very ones whom it is claimed he alienates always decide leadership.

The DA, in all honesty, cannot trust any black leader because ultimately any thinking black leader will find it difficult to defend white privilege. In electing Maimane the DA felt comfortable that he was not going to ever challenge the essence of its existence. Maimane ultimately knows much more about his DA and he knows blacks will never be the traditional base of this party. As the days unfold, they will find him corrupt too and nail him like they have always nailed all other blacks who dared to challenge them on their protection of white interest at any and every cost.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation